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By Ryan Dana (MLB Reports Intern): Follow @ryandana1
Seattle Mariners fans must be pretty amazing, Felix Hernandez sticking with their team through recent times. The Mariners were established in 1977 and have made the playoffs just 4 times in their history. They were the AL West champs 3 times (’95, ’97, ’01) and winners of the Wild Card once (’00). They have never won a World Series, or even an AL Pennant, and in 2012 they shipped off a fan favorite, Ichiro Suzuki, to the Yankees. The AL West is a tough division. The Rangers and Athletics made the playoffs last year, and the Angels just landed the prize of the off-season in slugger Josh Hamilton. I guess one bright spot is the Astros are moving to the AL West, so the Mariners won’t be rebuilding within the brutal division alone.
The Seattle Mariners hopes and dreams start where they have for years now, on the shoulders of King Felix. Felix Hernandez is no doubt an Ace. He has pitched 200+ innings every year since ’08, and had a sub 4.00 ERA every year since ’07. Hernandez won the AL Cy Young in 2010, and is a perennial contender for the award. Last year the Seattle fireballer threw his first Perfect Game. Hernandez will once again be atop the Mariners rotation, which as of now figures to include Hisashi Iwakuma, Blake Beavan, Erasmo Ramirez, and Hector Noesi.
Hisashi Iwakuma was a pleasant surprise for the Mariners in 2012. He wasn’t a greatly sought after oversees free agent last year, overshadowed greatly by fellow Japanese hurler Yu Darvish, but proved to be a great signing. Iwakuma started 2012 in the bullpen until he later earned a spot in the team’s rotation. Iwakuma managed a very respectable 3.16 ERA in the 125.1 innings he split between the rotation and the pen. This success is part of the reason the Mariners resigned the pitcher to a 2YR/14 Million Dollar deal this past November. He figures to hold down the 2nd spot in the rotation and should do just fine if 2012 was a sign of things to come.
Blake Beavan is still just 23 Years Old, but he already has 41 Major League Starts under his belt which gives the club hope he can hold down the 3rd or 4th slot in the rotation. Beavan clearly has the talent which is what made him a 1st Round draft pick out of high school for the Rangers, and the reason the Mariners made sure he was a part of the package they received in return for Cliff Lee in 2010. Beavan’s 2012 stats won’t impress a lot of people, but they were a good start for a young player like himself to build and improve upon.
Felix Hernandez Highlights: Mature Lyrics so Parental Guidance is advised
Note from Chuck Booth: I am attempting to bring the history for each of the 30 MLB Franchises into a 5 part series that will focus on 1. The teams history. 2. The hitters 3. The pitchers. 4. The Teams Payroll going into 2013 and 5.The Ball Park that they play in. (The stadium articles will all be done next summer when I go to all of the parks in under a month again.) Be sure to check my author page with a list of all of my archived articles section here.
Chuck Booth (Lead Baseball Writer): Follow @chuckbooth3024
I like that this franchise series is right dab smack in the middle of the biggest Franchise trade since Tony Fernandez and Fred McGriff went to San Diego for Roberto Alomar and Joe Carter in 1990. A Toronto Blue Jays fan can only hope for the same result that came down afterwards to repeat itself in the next few year. The early days of the Jays hitters (late 1970′s provided some long-term reliable guys,) however it wasn’t until Jesse Barfield won a HR Title and George Bell came home with the 1987 AL MVP, that the rest of the MLB started to take notice on the hitters of this Canadian Team. As soon as the club moved into SKYDOME, the hitters had a field day. Not to say that Exhibition Stadium didn’t aid some homeruns and nice averages in its day, it is just that SKYDOME is a hitter friendly park.
From George Bell and the outstanding other 80′s OF trio of Barfield and Lloyd “The Shaker” Moseby, to Tony Fernandez and Ernie Whitt, these guys all played a huge chunk of their careers with this Canadian Club. Fred McGriff routinely hit towering shots off of the Windows Restaurant and led the AL in HRs during the 1989 Pennant Winning Season. In 1991, when Joe Carter and Roberto Alomar arrived onto the scene, the offense just clicked on all cylinders. Devon White was gracefully stealing bases and striding into runs with those gigantic high knee kicks of his. John Olerud walked right out of College and added one of the best ‘natural’ swings that any of us have ever seen. Veterans Dave Winfield and Paul Molitor bashed their way into Jays hearts with their limited time with the organization en route to back to back World Series Titles in 1992 and 1993. After the Strike/Lockout, the team then saw Shawn Green and Carlos Delgado routinely destroy pitchers and be amongst the league lead in several power categories.
There is a ton more on this article just past these links or by clicking the READ THE REST OF THIS ENTRY ICON.
Here are the links for the article series.
Franchise History Part 2 1994-2012: http://mlbreports.com/2012/11/28/jay/
For Part 6 of the 7 Part Series: Blue Jays 2013 Team Payroll Click here:
For Part 7 of the 7 Part Series: Blue Jays 2013 Team Payroll: A Readers Thoughts, Click Here:
Thursday November 1st, 2012
Bernie Olshansky: What a great story it would be to see Josh Hamilton return to the team that drafted him. As a free agent this offseason, there is a possibility that this could be the case. Hamilton never played a Major League game with the “Devil Rays”. After he was drafted, he was the number one prospect in the Devil Rays’ organization. He had an extremely bright future, but unfortunately the money from the signing bonus combined with injuries sent Hamilton down the wrong path leading to his drug abuse and decline, eventually sending him out of baseball. Hamilton spent time on the restricted list and was suspended, and was eventually picked by the Chicago Cubs in the Rule 5 draft, subsequently being purchased by the Cincinnati Reds. Hamilton played part of a season with the Reds before being traded to the Rangers, where he was very successful, making the All Star team every year and winning the MVP in 2010.
The Rangers most likely will not pursue Hamilton, leaving him open for any other club. Hamilton would be great for the Rays. With B.J. Upton most likely leaving to free agency, the Rays will need to fill the center field position. Hamilton would bring a lot of excitement to Tampa Bay and would help bring the team back to the playoffs. A former MVP would tremendously improve the Rays’ potent lineup already including Evan Longoria, Ben Zobrist, and Carlos Pena. Acquiring Hamilton would make a large statement to the rest of the AL East. With the Yankees as the only real threat, the Rays would be sending the message that they are ready to win. The Red Sox are rebuilding, so they probably will not be of worry to the Rays, and the Blue Jays are coming off a disappointing season in 2011. The Orioles could be playoff bound, but with Hamilton, the Rays would have an advantage. With the new Wild Card in play, the Rays will have a good shot of reaching the playoffs even if they do not sign Hamilton. But, signing Hamilton would make the Rays a powerhouse and could give the Yankees a run for their money. Read the rest of this entry
Sunday October 28th, 2012
Jonathan Hacohen: This past spring, I had the chance to converse on the telephone with one of the greatest players of my generation. Middle-of-the-order power bat, combined with gold glove defense. Matt Williams is everything a manager could want in a baseball player. He showed up every day and played the game hard. Ran out every ground ball. Dove for every ball at third base. Consistently got his jersey dirty. Never complained to the media or spoke poorly about management or a teammate. Matt Williams was the ultimate professional, on and off the field. And now here he was, on the other end of the line conversing with me. It will be a baseball talk that I will never forget. Matt Williams has that strong of a presence.
I actually grew up a Giants fan, with the highlight of my baseball life being the 1989 Giants playoff run. But once Matt Williams and Will Clark left the Bay area, I was so devastated that I decided to never forgive the Giants. But I continued to follow the players that I idolized, through the rest of their playing days and into the next phases of their respective careers. Once Comerica Park opened, I grew to adopt the Tigers as my main team. The proximity to Detroit from my hometown made the Tigers a natural fit for me. But I was always a baseball fan first and foremost. If I respected a player, I followed them regardless of the team(s) they played for. Studying the history of the Tigers, I started to think about some of their former players. Kirk Gibson and Alan Trammell came to mind. Both were hard-nosed players who went on to manage in the big leagues. Gibson was a coach under Trammell in Detroit. Now Trammell is the bench coach in Arizona under Kirk Gibson. The team enjoyed an incredible run in 2011 and are still seen as a team on the rise. Ironically enough, Gibson’s third base coach? Matt Williams, of course. Read the rest of this entry
Monday October 8th, 2012
Patrick Languzzi (Cooperstown Correspondent, Twitter @PatrickLanguzzi):
I’ll be honest, when my editor handed me the assignment of posting my thoughts on Keith Hernandez and the Hall of Fame, I initially thought: Was Hernandez ever really a “superstar”? Aren’t those the kind of players that generally get elected to the Hall of Fame?
Hernandez lasted nine years on the Hall of Fame ballot, peaking in 1998 at 10.8 percent of the votes. He was the 1979 National League Most Valuable Player. Hernandez finished his career with a .296 batting average, was selected to five All-Star games, received two-Silver Slugger Awards, won a record setting 11 Gold Gloves, and is arguably considered the greatest fielding first baseman of all-time.
So why isn’t he in the Hall of Fame? Read the rest of this entry
Saturday September 22nd, 2012
John Burns: As you all know, the almighty Chipper Jones will be retiring from baseball after this season. He is it calling it quits after 19 seasons in the Majors. The 40 year-old Chipper Jones has been one of the best players in baseball for a longtime. With his outstanding career numbers, it is no question that one day he will be inducted into Cooperstown. A lock to be a first-ballot inductee. Jones has been part of Atlanta’s organization for 22 years after being drafted number first overall to the Braves in the 1990 MLB Draft. That is a lot of years at the hot corner, as well as some time spent in the outfield.
How will Atlanta recover without Chipper playing third every day? Are there any possible replacements? Besides his play on the field, can his leadership be replaced? This might shock a lot of you… but could David Wright be the one to replace Chipper in Atlanta? Read the rest of this entry
Tuesday August 7th, 2012
John Burns: It is easy to say that Robinson Cano is the best all-around second baseman in baseball right now. Cano has been the top second baseman for a couple of years now. What makes Cano so great is his ability to just flat-out hit and his much improved defense at second base. Cano is having another great season with the Yankees. With a .316 average and 24 homers, Cano has been one of the most feared hitters in the stacked Yankees lineup.
At age 29, Cano has very impressive career numbers, including a .309 average with 168 career homers. Since being called up to the Yankees in 2005, Cano has been a 4x All-Star, 3x Silver Slugger Award Winner, 2009 World Series Champion, 2010 Gold Glove Winner, and he even won the 2011 Home Run Derby. Now that is a very impressive line for a 29-year-old 2nd baseman! There is much more in store for Cano in the future as well in my opinion. Cano is not only the best second baseman, but I strongly believe that he is the best player in baseball. He does it all: he will consistently 25-30 homers a season and is almost a lock to hit .300 every season. Combine his bat with gold glove defense and you have one of the best all-around players in the game. Cano has been criticized in the past about being “Lazy” which I find absurd; As Derek Jeter has said before: Robinson Cano plays the game very smoothly and has one of the best work ethics around. Personally, I will take Jeter’s word at face value. Read the rest of this entry
Sunday July 22nd, 2012
By Patrick Languzzi (Guest Baseball Writer):
As we embark on baseball’s most exciting weekend, the eyes of baseball fans everywhere will be on Cooperstown, NY for the induction of Barry Larkin and Ron Santo into the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
Larkin was elected through the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA) and Santo via the Veterans Committee after falling off the ballot in 1998.
The Veterans committee consists of 16 members made up of veteran media members, executives and current members of the National Baseball Hall of Fame. For a player to be elected, they must receive 75 percent or 12 of 16 votes.
But there’s another player that I’ll take a special interest in come the winter meetings of 2013. That’s when the Expansion Era ballot (Veterans) finalists are announced. It’s also when former Red Sox great Dwight “Dewey” Evans becomes eligible again. Evans fell off the BBWAA ballot back in 1999. Now his chance to shine comes up again very soon. Read the rest of this entry
Monday April 9th, 2012
Ryan Ritchey (MLB reports Intern): This coming June, Barry Larkin will be inducted in the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York. This is a special day for all the Cincinnati fans throughout the world. As a young kid, I grew up idolizing Barry Larkin and always wanted to be like him. Now as an 18-year-old, I am going to see my favorite player of all time go into the Hall of Fame. Many people idolize the home run hitters, but for me it was about his hustle and heart to make the big plays when he needed to.
Larkin, as a young man growing up in Cincinnati was a huge Reds fan. Graduating from Moeller High School and being drafted by the Reds in the second round, he had a huge decision to make. He was also offered baseball and football scholarships to the University of Michigan. He decided to take his talents to Michigan and only focus on baseball. Playing three seasons with the Wolverines was all he needed to be drafted 4th overall by his hometown team the Cincinnati Reds. Read the rest of this entry
Tuesday January 24, 2012
Jonathan Hacohen: The Blue Jays signed today a backup infielder to a minor league contract with an invite to spring training. But not just any infielder. Omar Vizquel. Yes, the same Omar Vizquel that will be turning 45 years of age this coming April. Entering his 24th major league season. The ageless wonder. The infield answer to Jamie Moyer. Vizquel and his 11 gold gloves will be coming to Toronto in an attempt to earn a spot on the major league roster for the coming season.
I like this move by the Jays on many levels. With a current infield including Yunel Esobar, Kelly Johnson and Brett Lawrie, Vizquel provides depth and insurance. He is still strong defensively and can be a quality late-inning replacement. Believe it or not, he can also still hit and chip in the occasional stolen base. With Yunel Escobar still maturing on and off the field, Vizquel could prove to be the role model and mentor that the young shortstop needs to be able to take his game to the next level. Vizquel in essence would be a quasi-player-coach on the Jays, helping Lawrie and Johnson tighten their games as well. Every championship caliber team needs strong role players, regardless of the sport. For the Jays to jump to the next level, they will need Omar Vizquel type players on its roster. There are no guarantees that Vizquel will make the team out of spring training, or last a full season. But if he does, Jays fans will enjoy what they see from the Venezuelan fielding magician.
This article is as much about appreciating what value Vizquel brings to a baseball team today, as a reflection of his career to-date. I remember meeting Omar in the early 1990′s. He was a skinny guy on the Mariners and still hadn’t come into his own. I will never forget the t-shirt he was wearing during batting practice that day. It was an “Omar Vizquel” shirt, with his name and picture. This great fielding and no-hit shortstop stood at the first base line and signed autographs for over 30 minutes. He literally did not leave until every fan was looked after. Fast forward to the Vizquel today…and nothing has changed. Sure, the “Omar Vizquel” t-shirt is long gone. But he is the same Omar, engaging the fans and proud to be a major league baseball player. For a guy that has won 11 gold gloves and had a fairly good bat for a shortstop- I only have one question. Why are we not discussing him more as a future hall of famer?
Omar Vizquel is built in the mold of many superior fielding Venezuelan shortstops before him. Luis Aparicio and Dave Conception are the most famous examples that come to mind. I always have a comparison though that I throw in every time the words Vizquel and Cooperstown are said in the same sentence. Ozzie Smith. The Wizard of Oz. I watched both players for the majority of their careers and I am at a loss for words. By no means do I want to take anything away from Ozzie Smith. Far from it. But when I start to compare the two shortstops, I see many similarities. Similar bats. Similar gloves. The numbers are there. You can argue that Ozzie was a better base stealer, or that Omar had more power. The difference in their offensive numbers are negligible. Watching both players, I would tell you that they were at similar levels with a bat in their hands. With a glove, the numbers again are not far off. Ozzie was flashier and made more errors- but then he took more chances than Omar. But to argue that either one was a better defensive shortstop would be a difficult argument to make. The Wizard had the backflips and the all-star game appearances. Omar had an almost equal amount of gold gloves (11 to 13), but less notoriety. Ozzie made 15 all-star teams. Omar was on 3. But if Ozzie is a first-ballot hall of famer, then so is Omar.
Where I believe that Omar’s hall of fame chances are minimized are in his personality and era that he played in. While the 1980′s still had the belief of the all glove and no hit shortstops, the game evolved in the 1990′s. Cal Ripken type all-around players became the standard, with Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter and Nomar Garciaparra entering the mix. Backflips and all, Ozzie would have faced a difficult task in unseating those offensive beasts in order to gain election to multiple all-star games. Then when you take into account that Omar Vizquel is the steady/silent type- he just simply never received the headlines that he deserved. Yes, he won countless gold gloves. But rarely do I ever hear of a discussion where he is accounted for as one of the best at his position of all time. Again, if you consider Ozzie Smith one of the best- then you have to do the same for Omar Vizquel. I know this in my heart, but I have my doubts if all the hall of famer voters will see things the same way.
As the years have gone by, so have standards and criteria for election into Cooperstown. Given though the recent ‘steroid era’ and the difficult decisions faced by the voters with candidates such as Mark McGwire and Rafael Palmeiro, a candidate one day like Omar Vizquel should be an easy choice. While 3000 hits and 500 home runs used to be automatic markers for induction, offensive numbers are not as critical as they were in recent years. When I reflect on Omar Vizquel, I see a ballplayer that played the game the right way. He stayed fairly healthy for most of his career. He had a decent to very good bat for his position. He certainly never embarrassed himself at the plate. But first and foremost, he was a premiere shortstop. One of the best, if not THE best, that baseball has ever seen. He was steady as they come. Balls hit to Omar were usually automatic outs. He certainly earned each of his gold gloves and certainly could have earned even more. I am sure when the Mariners reflect on Omar Vizquel, they wish they would have kept him rather than moving him in 1993 for Felix Fermin. That year, Omar earned the first of his gold gloves. The first of many to come.
So in considering today’s signing, this is not an ordinary minor league deal. This is a story of a baseball warrior that is beating all odds, including father time. In an age when players are retiring earlier and the game is becoming a young man’s sport, Omar Vizquel continues to hang on. Only 159 hits away from 3000, I certainly could see him reaching that mark in 2013. But regardless of whether that magic number is hit, for everything that he has produced on the baseball diamond to-date, Omar Vizquel should be in Cooperstown in the next few years. I have enjoyed watching him play all of these years and look forward to cheering his name at least one more time before he hangs up his glove for good. Check the numbers again and begin your own thought process of whether you feel that Omar Vizquel deserves a place in Cooperstown. But hopefully we can hold off on that debate for at least a couple of more years.
Jonathan Hacohen is the Lead Baseball Columnist & Editor for MLB reports: You can follow Jonathan on Twitter (@JHacohen)
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